Human Rights in Georgia
Three Versions of Political Assassination of Guram Sharadze (part I)
On July 20 it will be two months after famous politician, academician, writer and public man Guram Sharadze was assassinated. However, his family members were not interrogated yet. His lawyer is ignored and cannot interfere in the investigation process. The family does not cooperate with law enforcers and does not hope the investigation will be impartial. Relatives of Sharadzes are sure that the assassination of Guram Sharadze will be one more case in addition to those which are pretended to be investigated through.
On May 20, by day time, Guram Sharadze was murdered at the intersection of Shanidze and Melikishvili streets. One hour later, patrol police arrested Giorgi Barateli, an accused for the murder near Mrgvali Bagi in Vake District. Initially, Barateli pleaded guilty but later he denied his participation in the crime. He was sentenced to two-month pre-trial detention. Law enforcers declared the case was investigated through. However, the family of the murdered man had serious doubts regarding Barateli from the very beginning.
According to the initial information, (law enforcers spread it during the detention of Barateli) the reason for murder was retaliation. The Sharadzes knew Barateli very well because they took care of the young man and assisted him. Law enforcers claimed that the reason for the accident was Giorgi Sharadze, son of the late Sharadze. Years ago, Giorgi took Barateli abroad to work but did not pay salary there.
Having heard the information, the family understood that it was useless to cooperate with the police because they were slandering. At this moment neither the lawyer nor the family has information about the case survey. Out of interest of the investigation law enforcers refuse to make comments.
Human Rights Center tried to get hold of some new information about the assassination of Sharadze.
Law enforcers keep all kind of information in secret. Neither family members nor relatives know anything about their work; however they were told that it was political assassination. Every respondent we have interviewed regarding the accident speaks about political murder and they name several reasons for the crime. Famous people mentioned several motives for the murder and they discuss such details which might be interesting for the investigation.
Rusudan Sharadze, daughter of Guram Sharadze said that one of the main reasons for her father’s murder is the arrival of Muslim Meskhs to Georgia. This question was raised after her father was murdered.
Rusudan Sharadze: “I have not met any law enforcers. The reasons might be various. Even a month had not passed since Guram Sharadze was assassinated and they started discussion of Muslim Meskhs return to Georgia. It was last drop for retaliation. I do not claim that my father was killed because of only that reason. In 1995-99 my father was the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Migration and Countrymen residing abroad. He personally attended to the arrival of Muslim Meskhs to Georgia and it goes to his honor that they have not returned here yet. The whole country would have supported my father who could produce corresponding documents. Those documents would have proved that there was no connection between so-called Mahmadian-Meskhs and Georgians or Meskhs. They are Turkish. Father used to claim that Great Turkish Invasion would seem a dream to us if they were resettled, because those people are brought up in the hatred of Georgian people. Those people are not coming here with kind wishes. Muslim Meskhs openly stated that they are not returning to Georgia, they are going back to their historical homeland-Akhaltsikhe Safasho (county in Turkish); they want to open mosques, schools there and finally they want to adjoin with Turkey.”
Another reason for Guram Sharadze’s political assassination is the Levil Estate in France. Although this question is not widely discussed at the moment, Rusudan Sharadze stated that like Muslim Meskhs’ problems, it would also be discussed. “I expect this question to be raised soon. Guram Sharadze would have certainly sacrificed himself to this problem and would not have given up the wealth which belongs to only Georgian people. He devoted his life to emigration and did his best to return the Georgian wealth to our country which was taken away from Georgia in 1921 by first democratic government. Ekvtime Takaishvili returned the treasure of the Georgian Church to our country but Guram Sharadze returned the governmental archive which weighs several tens of tones. The first democratic government took Georgian budget with them in order to keep it away from Bolsheviks. With that budget they purchased the Levil Estate and it belongs to Georgian people. My father could prove everything with documents and could cause serious concern. Finally they would have failed to sell Levil and to resettle Muslim Meskhs. Consequently they decided to get rid of my father.”
It had no sense to ask the family members and friends of Guram Sharadze anything about investigation. They cannot answer anything. “We cannot make any comments, nobody has got in touch with us,” answered the family members.
As for Barateli, Sharadze’s relatives said that the family of the murdered politician knew him very well. Rusudan Sharadze said “Father might have certainly seen Barateli but I am sure, even if he had met him, he would not have recognized him.” She recalled the relationship between Giorgi Sharadze and Barateli. “Giorgi worked as a Culture Attaché at the Georgian Embassy in Geneva. You know that Georgian emigration was large in Geneva and there are some archives and materials connected with Georgia there and they are not well-explored yet. Giorgi was making film regarding those materials and Barateli worked as a camera man. It happened 7-8 years ago. On the previous day of his departure to Georgia, Barateli stole something in the shop and he was arrested. My brother returned home alone. Although later Barateli was deported to Georgia, my brother did not meet him here. I can insist on it. I do not believe the investigation will be impartial. Just the opposite I expect great slander from them. Despite all that, I hope soon everything will be revealed and not only his murderers but also those people who ordered the crime will be persecuted.”
Three Versions of Guram Sharadze’s Political Assassination (Part II)
History of Messages
The family of Sharadzes has many questions regarding the investigation; however they do not apply to investigation because of mistrust. History of messages is very important in Sharadze’s case. The history started in summer of 2002. 10 000 subscribers of Magti GSM received similar messages: “Death to fascist Guram Sharadze, long life to Liberty Institute.” The incident caused serious concern and several articles and TV programs were dedicated to it. Consequently, criminal case was launched on the fact. The investigation found out certain Karosanidze, an employee of the Open Society-Georgia. The court discussed the case at trails; though nobody was punished for the incident.
According to Rusudan Sharadze, Karosanidze went on sending messages to Guram Sharadze’s personal mobile phone instead giving it up. The messages were sent from Internet site. Rusudan Sharadze said that final message was received on May 21, the next day of Guram Sharadze’s assassination.
Rusudan Sharadze: “I study in Geneva and lived there before my father’s death. I arrived in Tbilisi in the morning of that day. Law enforcers called me to take my father’s personal stuff. I met investigator Zaal Gurgenidze to take the things. Taking the mobile phone, I switched it on and saw a message dated by May 21, the next day of my father’s murder. The text was the following: “Of course it was a political assassination. He was a fascist and they croaked him. It serves him rights! (Then there was a smile sign)”… “Burry him next to Mussolini?” “The same will happen with other fascists. You should blame yourselves, you rotten and cannibals.” Afterwards I realized that the family decision-not to cooperate with law enforcers- was right. I mentioned the incidents about messages in my testimony but it had no sense. I used to tell law enforcers- pursue Karosanidze and you will discover ideological murderer of Sharadze!”
“He was a philologer, a historian, a writer, a public man, an author of numerous books, etc. Similar person could not have been murdered for any other reason but political,” said friends of Sharadze, who are also prominent people. They do not expect the investigation to be impartial. Those people have several questions regarding the investigation but could not receive any answers yet.
Nestan Kirtadze, a scientist, a politician and Guram Sharadze’s friend, said that political assassination of prominent person means to attack Georgian national values and traditions. She added that similar political crimes are national tragedies.
Nestan Kirtadze: “All similar political assassinations are awful accidents for the whole Georgian society. We cannot claim that people has got used to similar facts, because Sharadze was political figure and he was murdered for political reasons. He protected values of Georgian nationality, traditions, language, culture, our future…”
Kirtadze’s reaction on the question why she does not agree with law enforcers’ version is the following;
“First of all, Guram Sharadze was leader of political movement “Ena, Mamuli, Sartsmunoeba” (Language, Motherland, Faith). Killing the leader of similar organization means political assassination without any doubts. The standpoint of Sharadze’s life was struggle for language, motherland and faith. Nowadays, the survival of Georgian nationality is under serious threat. This political assassination is indirectly and directly connected with several factors. One of those factors is warning for political leaders to be careful. The issue of Muslim Meskhs’ arrival can serve as a proof for the supposition. It is insidious intention against Georgia and Guram Sharadze categorically opposed the idea.”
Nestan Kirtadze also has several questions regarding the investigation, but her principal question is addressed to the government: “There are a lot of questions. The government should not have kept silence regarding the assassination of such a prominent person. As for investigation it is not even a simple formality. Concerned people, as well as the lawyer of the family, were laughed at and licked out from all instances. There are a lot of questions and doubts.”
Politician Soso Shatberashvili, another friend of Guram Sharadze, mentions one more motive for murder. He said that Sharadze had some materials regarding the disagreement with Orthodox Church and it could become a reason for the murder.
Soso Shatberashvili: “I am definitely sure in one thing-it was a political assassination. The invented story as if Sharadze’s son had debt to somebody and the debtor retaliated against the scientist is similar bluff as they invented regarding Zurab Zhvania’s death. I have heard neither President, nor Prime-Minister nor the Chairwoman of the Georgian Parliament make any comments on Guram Sharadze’s assassination. Let them have expressed at least their condolence. Georgian society lost public man, scientist and perfect protector of Georgian nationality. I can suppose that his political murder might be connected with his active fight to protect Orthodox Church. Sharadze was radical. He had materials regarding the plotting against Georgian Church. The government does not seem to like exposing those materials which dealt with the activities of various sects and particularly of Jehovah Sect. I am very surprised that the government had no reaction on the murder.”
One of Soso Shatberashvili’s questions to the investigation is about the video recording of the murder. We should remind you that the assassination happened close to the building of Insurance Company “Aldagi” in Melikishvili Street. The video eye installed on the office building recorded the murder. However, law enforcers did not publish video materials.
“Nobody has seen that record. Two people were recorded by the video eye. Law enforcers are always ready to publish video records of officials while taking bribes but now they are not going to show any materials regarding Sharadze’s murder. One more interesting factor is that the accused for the murder denies his participation in the crime. There are doubts that some VIPs support the murderer and try to hinder the investigation,” said Shatberashvili.
The respondent is sure that the client of the murder will not be found until the government changes. Shatberashvili claims that it will be one more murder case in addition to many previous uninvestigated ones.
Three Versions of Guram Sharadze’s Political Assassination (the end)
One more prominent figure, scientist, former MP, politician and Guram Sharadze’s friend, Elizbar Javelidze, conversed with Human Rights Center. He claims that Sharadze was shot not from one but two guns. He has several questions regarding the investigation and expects law enforcers to answer his questions. However, Javelidze, like other respondents does not believe the investigation will be unbiased.
Elizbar Javelidze: “I do not trust the investigation. The assassination of Guram Sharadze will remain uninvestigated like the murder of his son. It was political assassination and nobody will persuade me that prominent public man was killed by three shots for personal disagreements. Current political situation shows that every person with patriotic spirit will be arrested, evicted or murdered. Our government is ordered to fights against all kind national movements. While Global Empire is being established every nations should be annihilated. Everybody who prevents the process must be removed. Some of them were arrested; others were murdered. This chain of political assassinations will not finish with Guram Sharadze.”
As for Javelidze’s questions regarding the investigation are the followings: “On the one hand, a murderer could not kill a victim in the central street in front of the video eye by day time. It was premeditated murder. Sharadze was shot from two sides and finally the third control bullet was fired at him. Thus it was impossible that murderer were only one person. There are two guns in the accident. Consequently there are a lot of questions and they must be answered. Witnesses, who are ready to keep to their initial testimonies, claim that after two bullets were shot to Sharadze and afterwards another person appeared and he shot the control bullet. Like the assassination of Zurab Zhvania, this accident will remain uninvestigated until the government changes. I wonder how the murderer was chased by a car and finally he was detained close to Mrgvali Bagi. (Round garden); it is absurd.”
Although it became impossible to receive information from investigation, law enforcers should have got interested into the information of respondents. It is interesting that none of them was interrogated yet.
Having finished the working on the article, Rusudan Sharadze got in touch with the Human Rights Center and gave new information. She managed to see the video record of Guram Sharadze’s assassination. The respondent got persuaded once again that her father was not murdered by Barateli. “On July 5, I saw video recording made by the video eye installed on the building of “Aldagi” office together with family lawyers, Nino Nishnianidze and Nugzar Birkia. It presented the murder of Guram Sharadze on May 20. Initially I should point out that the quality of the film is very poor, and it is black-and-white. We were trying to make out five-minute-recording during five hours. Having seen it, I got persuaded that Barateli was not a murderer and he was not on the scene of murder at all. The appearance of real murderer coincides with the descriptions of tens of witnesses who saw the criminal (I have met those witnesses several days after the accident; but now I do not want to name them because of their safety). The murderer is well-built person of 1, 78-80 meters tall, with broad shoulders and hair on his head. Barateli is short, nearly 1, 60 meters tall, thin person and the most important is that during the assassination he had shaven his hair!”
“I think the struggle for the truth has become reasonable and the family of Guram Sharadze, having consulted the question with lawyers, decided to involve the investigation process. If law enforcers destroy the film, it will be worse for them. We will fight till the end! In addition to that, if any member of our family will be somehow harassed, the Georgian government will be responsible for that!”